Paul R. Giordano, Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824;
Arielle M. Chaves and
Nathaniel A. Mitkowski, Department of Plant Sciences and Entomology, University of Rhode Island, Kingston 02881; and
Joseph M. Vargas, Jr., Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, Michigan State University
Bacterial etiolation and decline caused by Acidovorax avenae subsp. avenae is an emerging disease of creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera) in and around the transition zone, a unique area of turfgrass culture between cool and warm regions of the United States. It is suspected that the disease has been present for many years, although diagnosis of the first occurrence was not reported until 2010. Solicitation of samples from golf courses in 2010 and 2011 was undertaken to investigate the prevalence and dissemination of Acidovorax avenae subsp. avenae on creeping bentgrass. At least 21 isolates from 13 states associated with these outbreaks on golf courses were confirmed as A. avenae subsp. avenae by pathogenicity assays and 16S rDNA sequence analysis at two independent locations. Pathogenicity testing of bacterial isolates from creeping bentgrass samples exhibiting heavy bacterial streaming confirmed A. avenae subsp. avenae as the only bacterium to cause significant disease symptoms and turfgrass decline. Host range inoculations revealed isolates of A. avenae subsp. avenae to be pathogenic on all Agrostis stolonifera cultivars tested, with slight but significant differences in disease severity on particular cultivars. Other turfgrass hosts tested were only mildly susceptible to Acidovorax avenae subsp. avenae infection. This study initiated research on A. avenae subsp. avenae pathogenicity causing a previously uncharacterized disease of creeping bentgrass putting greens in the United States.